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Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich



Biography of writer Louise Erdrich plus summary of her story Fleur.

Biography of writer Louise Erdrich plus summary of her story Fleur.



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  • Wahpeton is on the Minnesota border, father paid her a nickel for each story (she later joked that these were her first royalties), book covers made out of woven strips of construction paper and staples
  • Grandfather worshiped the traditional Ojibwa religion while at the same time was a devout Catholic, 1972 was the first year the college began admitting women and the year the Native-American studies dept was established, Jobs– teaching poetry in prisons, editing a Boston Indian Council newspaper, flag-signaling on a construction site
  • Separation was result of allegations of sexual abuse brought against him by some of his children, She moved six blocks down the street so they could still raise their children together
  • In quotes because it is straight out of the book,

Louise Erdrich Louise Erdrich Presentation Transcript

  • Born in 1954
    Louise Erdrich
  • Erdrich was born in Little Falls, Minnesota
    She grew up in Wahpeton, ND
    Mother was French Chippewa or French Ojibwa(e)
    Father was German-American
    Maternal grandmother was tribal chairman on the Turtle Mountain Reservation
    Both of her grandparents worked in the Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school in Wahpeton
    Eldest of seven children
    Encouraged by her father to write stories as a child
    Mother would create book covers for her manuscripts
    Early Life
  • Attended a Catholic school in Wahpeton
    Entered Dartmouth College in 1972
    Participated in a Native American Study run by future husband Michael Dorris (who was part American Indian and a writer)
    In her undergraduate years she won prizes for poetry and fiction
    Worked a variety of jobs
    After deciding she wanted to write as a career she earned a Masters Degree at Johns Hopkins
  • Married Michael Dorris in 1981
    He had 3 adopted children already
    Together they had 3 daughters
    Seemed to be the perfect couple and were even called the “poster couple of multicultural literature”
    Personal Life
  • Early in marriage they published romantic fiction under the name “Milou North” in order to make money
    Michael Louise, they lived in the North (MN)
    Later, they collaborated on every project, but whoever wrote the entire, initial draft would be the official author
    The one exception, The Crown of Columbus, was published in 1991 under both of their names
    Starting in the 1990’s, Erdrich started writing solo and most of her work from that decade were entirely her own
    Collaborating with Michael Dorris
  • Dorris and Erdrich separated in 1995
    Dorris committed suicide in 1997, before their divorce was final
    Erdrich now lives in Minneapolis, MN with her 3 children and owns the bookstore Birchbark Books
    Personal Life Cont.
  • She was named one of People Magazine’s “Most Beautiful People” in 1990
    Since the late 1990’s she has focused on learning the Ojibwe language and studying her tribe’s culture, traditions and mysticism
    Interesting tid-bits about Louise
  • Novels:
    Love Medicine, 1984
    The Beet Queen, 1986
    Tracks, 1988
    The Crown of Columbus (with husband), 1991
    The Bingo Palace, 1994
    Tales of Burning Love, 1996
    The Antelope Wife, 1998
    The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, 2001
    The Master Butchers Singing Club, 2003
    Four Souls, 2004
    A Plague of Doves, 2008
  • Poetry
    Jacklight, 1984
    Baptism of Desire, 1989
    Original Fire: New and Selected Poems, 2003
    Children’s Books
    Grandmother’s Pigeon, 1996
    The Birchbark House, 1999
    The Game of Silence, 2004
    Writings Cont.
  • Awards
    Academy of American Poets Prize, 1975
    Best First Fiction Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts& Letters
    Nelson Algren Fiction Award for "The World's Greatest Fishermen," 1982
    National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, 1982
    Pushcart Prize for "Indian Boarding School," 1983
    National Magazine Award for Fiction, 1983
    National Book Critics Circle Award for Best Work of Fiction, 1984
    Sue Kaufman Prize for Best First Fiction from The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1984
    Virginia McCormick Scully Award for Best Book, 1984
    John Simon Guggenheim Award, 1985
    Los Angeles Times Award for Fiction, 1985
    American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, 1985
    Great Lakes Colleges Association Award for Best First Work of fiction for Love Medicine, 1985
    O. Henry Prize and National Magazine Award for "Fleur," 1987
    Western Literary Association Award, 1992
  • She explores Native American themes in her writing but her major characters represent both sides of her heritage
    “Her style is easy, offhand, quietly unostentatious, but her language often has an unpredictability and sense of surprise”
    The lyrical descriptions in her fiction resemble the language of her poems and the characterizations and narratives in her poetry resemble the ones in her fiction
    She sometimes puts realistic stories of small-t0wn life in her works and sometimes retells mythical stories
    Work reflects her awareness of historical events and ongoing events of Native American life
    Erdrich’s Writing and Techniques
  • Characters: Fleur, Pauline, townspeople, Pete Kozka and wife Fritzie, Lily, Tor, Dutch (Pauline’s Stepfather)
    Starts with background information on Fleur: Chippewa Indian that almost drowned twice; instead the person who saved her or the first person to get close to her died. This led to the townspeople being scared of her and caused them to believe many things about her. They wanted to drive her off the reservation, but no one had the guts to. Then one day, she left on her own for the summer.
    This is where the story begins.
    Fleur Summary
  • Goes to the town Argus
    Gets a job at Pete Kozka’s butcher shop
    Sits down and plays cards with the men; which is unheard of
    Every night she wins exactly a dollar
    Men are getting very angry and save up all of their money
    One night they played so long all of their money was on the table; on the last hand Fleur won
    Lily, Dutch, Tor, Fleur and Pauline are present
    Lily flipped out and went after her
    Fleur hides while Lily is wrestling a pig (with the other men watching) and when he is pinned down she runs
    The men catch her and assault her
    During all of this Pauline is watching in the shadows too scared to come out
    Summary Cont.
  • The next day a tornado hits
    The three men hide in the freezer; leaving Pauline behind
    She ends up locking the door from the outside
    Aftermath: nothing is really damaged much except for the places in the butcher shop where the three men worked; the back rooms where Pete and his wife lived were unharmed; even the last cigarette that Fritzie had sitting in an astray was undisturbed
    It was a few days before they realized the men were missing
    They found them frozen to death huddled up together in the freezer
    Summary Cont.
  • Fleur returned to the reservation where she had a child; she lives down on Lake Turcot
    No one goes to visit her or even sees her other than Pauline
    Some say the child is the waterman, Misshepshu’s or that it is a white man’s
    Everyone talks and tells stories but no one really knows the truth
    Summary Cont.
  • What is Erdrich’s nationality?
    Where did Erdrich go to school?
    In the story Fleur, what happened to the man she cursed after she almost drowned the second time?
    What event led to the men attacking Fleur?
    What are some of the things the townspeople believed about Fleur?
  • http://www.gale.cengage.com/free_resources/whm/bio/erdrich_l.htm
    The Norton Anthology: American Literature Volume E